“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children.

(Exodus 20:5) - "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,"

Panel Suggests Brown U. Atone for Ties to Slavery

By PAM BELLUCK. New York Times
Published: October 19, 2006
BOSTON, Oct. 18 — Extensively documenting Brown University’s 18th-century ties to slavery, a university committee called Wednesday for the institution to make amends by building a memorial, creating a center for the study of slavery and injustice and increasing efforts to recruit minority students, particularly from Africa and the West Indies.

The Committee on Slavery and Justice, appointed three years ago by Brown’s president, Ruth J. Simmons, a great-granddaughter of slaves who is the first black president of an Ivy League institution, said in a report: “We cannot change the past. But an institution can hold itself accountable for the past, accepting its burdens and responsibilities along with its benefits and privileges.”

Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children may be a very slippery slope. Every generation is a product of the previous, and times and norms change. Views, practices, laws and conventions change with the times, as is obvious from this nineteenth century cartoon. No one can undo the past and to speculate about about what happened yesterday is as pointless as what happened two hundred years ago, or ten thousand years ago. The speculation is only meaningful in helping you decide upon plans for the future. Almost all politics is dependent upon past laws, practices and traditions. It is evolutionary and at times revolutionary. The changes have consequences.

Will this type of decision by Brown be part of a trend? Will it lead from an apology to reparations? Will that lead to legislation and the taking away property (money) from one party and awarding it to another for sins not suffered or committed by either?


  1. Of course you can sue, rts, transfats cause heart ailments as tobacco causes cancer.

    The precedents are set.

  2. 1) It is now familiar, if still a scandal, that business decisions which would have been near-universally regarded as perfectly lawful at the time can retroactively be defined not only as giving rise to liability, but even as "racketeering". By this point, with the "racketeering" label having been flung around (and sometimes with success) in so many garden-variety commercial disputes, it may be on the verge of losing its sting.

    2) This case, however, was not of the garden variety. From the start, it sought to stigmatize as racketeering tobacco companies' public advocacy efforts -- their efforts to defend their product in public debate and marshal every good and bad argument on its behalf the same way a lawyer might, their P.R. efforts to plant favorable articles in the press, their support of groups like the Tobacco Institute, and so forth. The Justice Department's complaint charges them, revealingly, with responsibility for taking "false and misleading positions on issues" (emphasis added) (see Sept. 23, 1999). It should be obvious (but apparently still isn't) that lots and lots of other defendants, who are not for the moment as politically unpopular as tobacco companies, might also someday be in peril of legal charges for advancing false and misleading "positions on issues".

    3) Although Judge Kessler may have thrown out substantial portions of the feds' case, the remedies she approved nonetheless impinge on values of free advocacy. Tobacco companies are to be ordered to admit in communications to consumers various supposed facts which they do not believe to be true, and which in fact may not be true (for example, that no particular formula for a cigarette's ingredients is safer or more natural than any other) but which fit the desired anti-tobacco message. They are to be forbidden to utter a great many other statements which they believe to be true on the grounds that -- well, basically on the grounds that the government disapproves of those statements and doesn't want them aired as part of public debate.

    4) It goes without saying that the advancement of erroneous or misleading arguments, the promotion of dubious science, etc. as part of an effort to sell one's product line is not going to be deemed "racketeering" when certain other groups of professionals do it -- say, politicians and lawyers.
    the quote
    and for more background
    Googl's 1st page of tobacco lawsuits.

    The links are to Governmental actions against a legal product, didn't even page thru for Civil liabilities that the tobacco companies may be found liable for.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Gotta thank those Chinese for doin such a good job down there, in Panama, after we left.

    No one supports distribution of their exports, like the Chinese.

  5. 2164th,

    Your choice of Bible verse is telling in another way. Is it possible that the Republican nomination of George W. Bush and his election in 2000 was something of a mea culpa by the conservative base for having repudiated his father in ’92? Baby Boomer emoting in both, instances, if you will?

    G.H.W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush…Emotion can be such a deadly force.

    As to Mexican border security, it would be novel for the President to do the country a service for no other reason than its virtue. Right, I know; wrong man, wrong issue.

  6. DR,

    If you have not this morning read Rick Moran at Right Wing Nut House, doing so might be worthwhile.

    In panic drive, Mr. Moran lays out a list of dangers facing the country with the loss of one or both houses of Congress. Without slowing or hesitation, his indictment of Democrats is readily applicable to the current administration and Congress; proving there is none so blind as he who cannot see beyond his partisan blinkers.

    “It is simply unconscionable to advocate for the defeat of the only party that wishes to engage the enemy in battle…”

    Excuse me? DR, when did last you hear of American troops in Iraq being killed in “battle?” Certainly, they are being killed while manning defensive positions, on convoy duty, and on reconnaissance patrols, but battle – I don’t think so.

    “It is simply unconscionable to advocate for the defeat of the only party that wishes to confront rogue states that support terrorism…”

    I slept last night. DR, have you heard this morning of the taking down of Syria, North Korea, Iran, or Hamas? Weren’t most of these guys allies within the “Axis of Evil?”

    “It is simply unconscionable to advocate for the defeat of the only party that wishes to do everything that the Constitution allows to keep the homeland safe.”

    Again, I did sleep through last night. DR, did the wall at the Mexican border go up while I obliviously slept? Did the President hastily sign the Wall Bill in the dead of night, out of the glare of the media? Did Mexico promise to halt the flow illegals into the US by overnight fax?

    With a full head of steam, Mr. Moran says the Democrats will “[turn] to the United Nations for directions on what to do about Iran and North Korea.”

    Had he thrown in Lebanon as well, Mr. Moran would have entirely described Bush foreign policy over the last four years! DR, did Mr. Bush issue a statement, say after 0100 this morning, telling the UN to kiss off, that hence forth the US would act entirely on its own initiative?

  7. No, allen, none of those things happened whilst we slept. That I am aware of.

    Put the link at the bottom of the post, with just a couple of words following, then when it goes "blue" like that, it is not so annoying.

  8. DR,

    re: blue

    It IS irritating. For some reason, I have been having trouble over the last few days doing documents and linking. I may need a computer diagnostic.

  9. Frankly I am still pretty pissed off about the Moorish conquest of the 8th century.

    On a side note... why are we paying reparations to Africans... aren't they the lucky ones who didn't get Shanghi'd to the New World?

  10. Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children may be a very slippery slope.

    Sorry to quibble semantics, but there is neither a "may be" nor a "slippery slope". That sentance should read "Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children is a bottomless abyss".

    But hey, heres a ridiculous hypothetical :

    I for instance, would like to sue the Catholic Church and Teutonic Order for the Northern crusades and resulting serfdom in Latvia and Estonia c. 1200-1918. While the teutonic order is a hard target nowadays, the Catholic Church (with a ethnic German pope no less) is both an easy and fat target. 700 years of opressed ancestors should be worth at least a million. 1 million eiro for each of 2 million Latvians is only 2 trillions. Hah! Pony up Ratzinger!

  11. “But when President Bush starts overgeneralizing and whitewashing reality, his shallow platitudes about Islam become a hindrance.”
    “If we truly want moderate Muslims to prevail over the jihadists and their enablers, we must abandon double-talk and sugar-coating and delusionary pleasantries. Confronting hard truths is the most compassionate thing we can do. If we don't do it, who will?”
    Another liberal attacks President Bush’s Muslim policy:

    Sorry, let me revise the last to, "another traitorous Republican".